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Six people arrested, accused of smuggling duck and goose intestines from China through L.A.

Federal authorities have arrested six New York City residents for allegedly smuggling illegal duck and goose organs from China through Los Angeles, according to a federal complaint.

The shipments, which occurred between August 2022 and May 2023, contained goose and duck intestines from China and were in some instances mislabeled on customs forms as pet nail clippers or hidden under packaged rattlesnakes, authorities said.

The scheme also included "duck-blood products from unapproved establishments in China," as well as hawthorn fruit — a restricted agricultural commodity, authorities said. The operation allegedly involved transporting the goods from China to the Port of Long Beach in Los Angeles and then to New York, where authorities say they were sold to multiple customers, including restaurants and consumers.

Ming Huang Chen, 40, also known as Joe Chen, allegedly ran the operation that imported and sold the illegal goods, prosecutors said. Chen's domestic partner, Runhua Hou or Rachael Hou, 32, is accused of assisting Chen. Both were charged with illegally importing merchandise into the U.S.

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Hangming Fang, 38, who ran a business in New York called Chu Feng Food Wholesale, and Shanqing Ou, 38, were also charged with smuggling. Hangting Lin, 32, and Minghao Lin, 38, were accused of transporting the illegal goods.

The only meat and poultry imports from China allowed by the Food and Safety Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are catfish and "heat-treated/cooked" poultry products, according to the complaint.

Authorities allege that the originators of the conspiracy reside in California and China, and that they found "transporters" such as Chen and Hou to move the illegal items from California into New York. Then wholesalers, such as Fang and Ou, would sell the products to customers.

In August 2022, 1,966 cartons of duck and goose intestines were shipped from China to the Port of Long Beach, but they were identified as "pet grooming tool pet nail clippers" on customs forms, according to the complaint.

The cartons were taken to Los Angeles International Airport and flown to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, authorities said.

In November 2022, illegal products were hidden under packages of dead rattlesnakes while others were mislabeled as frozen seafood, prosecutors said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.